NY Times polling guru cautions Trump-hating readers that his approval numbers may go higher

While Dave Ball today on these pages cautions us that polls no longer are reliable, in his article Trump in a Landslide: Here's Why, the New York Times’ own polling guru is picking up signs that the paper’s bête noire may be surging in public support.  Nate Cohn writes in Don’t Assume Trump’s Approval Rating Can’t Climb Higher. It Already Has.:

Donald J. Trump doesn’t always seem like a candidate focused on expanding his base of support. He may have done so anyway.

The share of Americans who say they have a favorable view of him has increased significantly since the 2016 election.

This is totally in agreement with what Dave Ball reports, based on his experiences in 2016 and 2019 at the Washington County (PA) Agricultural Fair, which predicted Trump’s 2016 victory:

It looks as if President Trump will do even better than 2016.  I have never seen such enthusiasm, especially so far before an election.  More than 75,000 people attended the fair, and the crowd was a sea of MAGA and KAG hats, Trump shirts, Trump pins, you name it.  This was Trump country, no doubt about it.

Cohn continues:

One common view of the 2020 election, for instance, takes 2016 as a starting point. It notes that Democrats fell just short of victory, and that therefore any number of changes — a better candidate, higher black turnout, and so on — would be enough to win the election in 2020. This way of thinking assumes that the president’s support would remain unchanged — that he could do little to match incremental increases in Democratic turnout or support, compared with 2016.

But it is not 2016 anymore. Millions of Americans who did not like the president in 2016 now say they do. Over all, his personal favorability rating has increased by about 10 percentage points among registered voters since Election Day 2016, to 44 percent from 34 percent, according to Upshot estimates.

Richard Baehr comments:

Nate Cohn is a straight shooter and one of the better analysts and statistics people.  He replaced Nate Silver after Silver left the Times to go off on his own, and they compete , sometimes acidly, sometimes respectfully.  In 2018, Cohn had a good record calling individual house races.  In 2016, he gave Trump about a 15% chance on Election Day, Silver 30%.  Pretty much everyone else gave Trump no chance.

At this point, 14 months before the November 2020 election, we don’t know who the Dem nominee will be, or the state  of the economy, or  the international situation in any number of spots.  In essence, Cohn says Trump has a reasonable chance to win re-election, since his numbers on personal favorability and job approval, haver held steady or grown a bit over 3 years.  

That said, in 2018, Dems won the national popular vote for the House by 8 or 9%. Dems had a presidential-type turnout in many states; the GOP had a more traditional midterm type turnout.  Will more Trump voters turn out for a presidential election than a midterm? For sure.

Will Dem turnout not get as much of a boost since it was very high in 2018?  Not so clear.  Dems are spending heavily to register minorities  and boost turnout in 2020 -- a big head start on the GOP, especially in Texas, which has to be in GOP column for any Republican to win.  Cruz beat Beto by 2.6%.  Several GOP congressmen barely survived in the state in 2018.   

There were many close races that Dems won around the country -- roughly two dozen by 5% or less.  But Dems also lost 21 House races by less than 5%.   It is not as if the GOP-held seats are all solid for 2020.  Heavy investment by Dems in House races in states like Texas and Florida, also helps their presidential nominee.

Overall, Cohn concludes Trump could win, but this is  not a shocking or brave call, given that the economy is still strong, he is an incumbent, and no Dem seems to have caught fire or excited voters as Obama did.

I think the most likely scenario is a close Trump win or a close Trump loss, but I also think there is a smaller possibility, though a real one, that Trump could lose badly, as McCain did. McCain lost the popular vote by 7.2%.  Trump lost it in 2016 by 2.1%.  Tomney lost by 3.9%.

 Hat tip: Lauri B. Regan

While Dave Ball today on these pages cautions us that polls no longer are reliable, in his article Trump in a Landslide: Here's Why, the New York Times’ own polling guru is picking up signs that the paper’s bête noire may be surging in public support.  Nate Cohn writes in Don’t Assume Trump’s Approval Rating Can’t Climb Higher. It Already Has.:

Donald J. Trump doesn’t always seem like a candidate focused on expanding his base of support. He may have done so anyway.

The share of Americans who say they have a favorable view of him has increased significantly since the 2016 election.

This is totally in agreement with what Dave Ball reports, based on his experiences in 2016 and 2019 at the Washington County (PA) Agricultural Fair, which predicted Trump’s 2016 victory:

It looks as if President Trump will do even better than 2016.  I have never seen such enthusiasm, especially so far before an election.  More than 75,000 people attended the fair, and the crowd was a sea of MAGA and KAG hats, Trump shirts, Trump pins, you name it.  This was Trump country, no doubt about it.

Cohn continues:

One common view of the 2020 election, for instance, takes 2016 as a starting point. It notes that Democrats fell just short of victory, and that therefore any number of changes — a better candidate, higher black turnout, and so on — would be enough to win the election in 2020. This way of thinking assumes that the president’s support would remain unchanged — that he could do little to match incremental increases in Democratic turnout or support, compared with 2016.

But it is not 2016 anymore. Millions of Americans who did not like the president in 2016 now say they do. Over all, his personal favorability rating has increased by about 10 percentage points among registered voters since Election Day 2016, to 44 percent from 34 percent, according to Upshot estimates.

Richard Baehr comments:

Nate Cohn is a straight shooter and one of the better analysts and statistics people.  He replaced Nate Silver after Silver left the Times to go off on his own, and they compete , sometimes acidly, sometimes respectfully.  In 2018, Cohn had a good record calling individual house races.  In 2016, he gave Trump about a 15% chance on Election Day, Silver 30%.  Pretty much everyone else gave Trump no chance.

At this point, 14 months before the November 2020 election, we don’t know who the Dem nominee will be, or the state  of the economy, or  the international situation in any number of spots.  In essence, Cohn says Trump has a reasonable chance to win re-election, since his numbers on personal favorability and job approval, haver held steady or grown a bit over 3 years.  

That said, in 2018, Dems won the national popular vote for the House by 8 or 9%. Dems had a presidential-type turnout in many states; the GOP had a more traditional midterm type turnout.  Will more Trump voters turn out for a presidential election than a midterm? For sure.

Will Dem turnout not get as much of a boost since it was very high in 2018?  Not so clear.  Dems are spending heavily to register minorities  and boost turnout in 2020 -- a big head start on the GOP, especially in Texas, which has to be in GOP column for any Republican to win.  Cruz beat Beto by 2.6%.  Several GOP congressmen barely survived in the state in 2018.   

There were many close races that Dems won around the country -- roughly two dozen by 5% or less.  But Dems also lost 21 House races by less than 5%.   It is not as if the GOP-held seats are all solid for 2020.  Heavy investment by Dems in House races in states like Texas and Florida, also helps their presidential nominee.

Overall, Cohn concludes Trump could win, but this is  not a shocking or brave call, given that the economy is still strong, he is an incumbent, and no Dem seems to have caught fire or excited voters as Obama did.

I think the most likely scenario is a close Trump win or a close Trump loss, but I also think there is a smaller possibility, though a real one, that Trump could lose badly, as McCain did. McCain lost the popular vote by 7.2%.  Trump lost it in 2016 by 2.1%.  Tomney lost by 3.9%.

 Hat tip: Lauri B. Regan